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Dandoti Parikrama - Special Circumambulation More Popular In Govardhan

In Hindu religion, Dandoti Parikrama is a special form of circumambulation of a place of pilgrimage, a holy person, a temple, sacred water body or a tree. Dandoti Parikrama is particularly popular in Govardhan, a sacred hill situated in Braja Bhumi, the land of Krishna, in North India.

Dandoti parikrama involves lying flat on the ground with the arms out stretched all along the sacred route at every step, and moving forward by prostrating again at the spot touched by the fingers during the last prostration.

Dandoti is derived from the world danda (r0d) and the act of lying down flat is likened to a rod falling straight on the ground. There is an even more stringent form of dandoti parikrama, which is performed one hundred and eight times at the same spot before moving forward. To keep count of the number of prostrations done, a small stone is taken from a pile of one hundred and eight stones placed at the feet of the performer and placed at the point reached by the outstretched arms.

The parikrama is an established form of religious practice in India. Dandoti is performed to some extent in Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva, by devotees. But as said earlier it is more popular in Vrindavan, Mathura and Govardhan.

The ordinary dandoti parikrama of Govardhan can be completed within a month but the more arduous form can take three to four years to complete. This type of parikrama is undertaken usually by sadhus (wandering mendicants) or those who wish to acquire greater merits or to remove the burden of actions, i.e. karma, performed in the past lives.

The parikrama is also considered to be symbolic of encircling the universe and the performer is identified with Brahma, the creator.